Runner Runner

First Hit: Great actors in a weak and poorly conceived story.

An enterprising college student Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) gets his peers to go to a gambling site where they lose money. He gets paid to refer people to this site.

This is how he is paying for school because he lost his previous job as a broker and what he wants his MBA. Because one of his student clients loses a bunch of money, school officials tell Richie he can’t continue in his business. With few options left, he bets all he has on a poker gambling website. His quick mind, and with a friends computer help, he figures out that the site cheated.

He decides to go meet the owner of the site – Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Block is not allowed back into the United States because of his business behavior of not paying taxes etc. The FBI is after him as well, but cannot touch him because he’s in Belize.

Block convinces Richie to work for him and but Richie doesn’t know he’s being played, again. In the end Richie is smart enough and finds a way to turn the tides against Block. The story is weak, parts of the idea are strong. The actors are strong, but in a weak script and under poor direction this film fails in many ways.

Timberlake is OK but only because the script he’s given. He makes it work well enough to keep the audience engaged, but overall the film falls flat. Affleck does great in great roles and under decent direction and under poor direction with a mediocre script, he looks lost. Gemma Arterton played Affleck’s and Timberlake’s lover is only OK, but again this is probably because of the script and direction. Brian Koppelman and David Levien wrote a weak script. The idea was good but the execution was really poor. Brad Furman didn’t have a lot to work with but some of the sequencing of scenes was awkward and poorly done.

Overall:  This was a mediocre film but the idea was OK.